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Hull of Brittany Ferries’ LPG Powered Honfleur Takes to the Water at German Shipyard

14th December 2018
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The hull of Honfleur for Brittany Ferries (English Channel service) takes to the water for first time as the 42,400 gross tonnage cruiseferry is launched from FSG. The same German shipbuilder that completed Irish Ferries newbuild W.B. Yeats as previously reported on Afloat is finally to make a delivery voyage to Ireland, Dublin next week. The hull of Honfleur for Brittany Ferries (English Channel service) takes to the water for first time as the 42,400 gross tonnage cruiseferry is launched from FSG. The same German shipbuilder that completed Irish Ferries newbuild W.B. Yeats as previously reported on Afloat is finally to make a delivery voyage to Ireland, Dublin next week. Photo: Brittany Ferries - twitter

#ferry - The hull of Brittany Ferries’ brand new LNG-powered cruiseferry Honfleur for English Channel service, was today given a traditional ship launching ceremony at the FSG shipyard in Flensburg, Germany.

At midday, hundreds of well-wishers, invited guests, shipyard workers and Brittany Ferries team members lined the quaysides. From there the crowds saw the completed hull of the vessel slid down the historic building slipway and into the chilly waters of the Flensburg Fjord.

The launch is the third milestone in the construction of Honfleur, following cutting of the first steel in March, and laying of the keel in August.

Since the keel was laid, 118 huge steel hull sections have been welded together on the slipway to create the 10,000 tonne six-storey behemoth before launching. The completed hull already contains all the ship’s main machinery including its efficient and environmentally-friendly LNG-electric propulsion system.

The launch marks Honfleur’s place in a long and historic line of ships to be constructed at the Flensburger Schiffbau-Gesellschaft yard (FSG) situated on the tip of Schleswig-Holstein, northern Germany. Since its foundation in 1872 more than 750 ships have been designed and built at the site.

Honfleur represents a new generation of cross-Channel ferry combining state-of-the art design and sustainable thinking with a smart, digitally-informed customer experience. The ship’s passengers will enjoy innovative experiences and fresh service concepts along with the highest standards of French onboard hospitality and catering. Altogether Honfleur will carry up to 1,680 passengers and will offer 261 cabins, two cinemas, restaurants, boutique shopping and choice of spacious passenger lounges

Honfleur will be an environmental pioneer on the English Channel. When it enters service it will be the first ship on the Channel to be powered by Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG). LNG provides major environmental advantages, reducing carbon dioxide, and cutting sulphur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide and particulate emissions to almost zero. The ship’s hull has been hydro-dynamically optimised; this combined with gas-electric propulsion machinery will reduce energy consumption while improving onboard comfort and minimising vibration and noise levels.

The launch marks the beginning of the next phase of the ship’s construction. Over the coming weeks and months, two giant superstructure ‘mega blocks’ currently en route by barge from shipyards in Poland will be hoisted into position by giant cranes, and the ferry’s attractive and modern interiors will be installed. Then, the ship will complete a series of sea trials allowing every system on board to be rigorously tested, before the first passengers board the vessel on the Portsmouth to Caen/Ouistreham route in summer 2019. The route is Brittany Ferries’ most popular carrying around 1 million passengers, 300,000 cars and 100,000 freight units each year.

Jean-Marc Roué, Brittany Ferries’ president said: “Today’s a big day for Honfleur, and a proud moment for everyone at Brittany Ferries, particularly our teams dedicated to bringing the project to fruition.”

“Honfleur will be the largest and greenest ship that Brittany Ferries has ever operated – she’ll also be the smartest: packed with new technology, innovation and comforts”, said Christophe Mathieu, CEO Brittany Ferries. “It’s a statement of our commitment to fleet renewal and long-term, sustainable development. And it will be the first of three new ships to be delivered post-Brexit, all part of a €450m investment programme to make Brittany Ferries fit for the future.”

“Now a new phase in Honfleur’s construction begins, as the superstructure is added and we work to prepare the ship to welcome its first customers this summer. We can’t wait to show them everything Honfleur has to offer.”

For more information and to follow the progress of the build from now until entry into service visit the Honfleur website.

Published in Ferry
Jehan Ashmore

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Jehan Ashmore

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Jehan Ashmore is a marine correspondent, researcher and photographer, specialising in Irish ports, shipping and the ferry sector serving the UK and directly to mainland Europe. Jehan also occasionally writes a column, 'Maritime' Dalkey for the (Dalkey Community Council Newsletter) in addition to contributing to UK marine periodicals. 

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Ferry & Car Ferry News The ferry industry on the Irish Sea, is just like any other sector of the shipping industry, in that it is made up of a myriad of ship operators, owners, managers, charterers all contributing to providing a network of routes carried out by a variety of ships designed for different albeit similar purposes.

All this ferry activity involves conventional ferry tonnage, 'ro-pax', where the vessel's primary design is to carry more freight capacity rather than passengers. This is in some cases though, is in complete variance to the fast ferry craft where they carry many more passengers and charging a premium.

In reporting the ferry scene, we examine the constantly changing trends of this sector, as rival ferry operators are competing in an intensive environment, battling out for market share following the fallout of the economic crisis. All this has consequences some immediately felt, while at times, the effects can be drawn out over time, leading to the expense of others, through reduced competition or takeover or even face complete removal from the marketplace, as witnessed in recent years.

Arising from these challenging times, there are of course winners and losers, as exemplified in the trend to run high-speed ferry craft only during the peak-season summer months and on shorter distance routes. In addition, where fastcraft had once dominated the ferry scene, during the heady days from the mid-90's onwards, they have been replaced by recent newcomers in the form of the 'fast ferry' and with increased levels of luxury, yet seeming to form as a cost-effective alternative.

Irish Sea Ferry Routes

Irrespective of the type of vessel deployed on Irish Sea routes (between 2-9 hours), it is the ferry companies that keep the wheels of industry moving as freight vehicles literally (roll-on and roll-off) ships coupled with motoring tourists and the humble 'foot' passenger transported 363 days a year.

As such the exclusive freight-only operators provide important trading routes between Ireland and the UK, where the freight haulage customer is 'king' to generating year-round revenue to the ferry operator. However, custom built tonnage entering service in recent years has exceeded the level of capacity of the Irish Sea in certain quarters of the freight market.

A prime example of the necessity for trade in which we consumers often expect daily, though arguably question how it reached our shores, is the delivery of just in time perishable products to fill our supermarket shelves.

A visual manifestation of this is the arrival every morning and evening into our main ports, where a combination of ferries, ro-pax vessels and fast-craft all descend at the same time. In essence this a marine version to our road-based rush hour traffic going in and out along the commuter belts.

Across the Celtic Sea, the ferry scene coverage is also about those overnight direct ferry routes from Ireland connecting the north-western French ports in Brittany and Normandy.

Due to the seasonality of these routes to Europe, the ferry scene may be in the majority running between February to November, however by no means does this lessen operator competition.

Noting there have been plans over the years to run a direct Irish –Iberian ferry service, which would open up existing and develop new freight markets. Should a direct service open, it would bring new opportunities also for holidaymakers, where Spain is the most visited country in the EU visited by Irish holidaymakers ... heading for the sun!

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